Recruiting Week in Review

In his tenure at Notre Dame, Charlie Weis has never seemed to lack confidence. Many have even accused him of being confident to the point of arrogance. However, that confidence has paid huge dividends in recruiting. Not only does Weis possess an uncanny ability to sell Notre Dame to recruits, but he also had the audacity to sign a top two class in the midst of a 3-9 campaign.

He followed that up with a top twenty-five class that literally went down to signing day with the potential to be much higher. This year Weis and the Irish have already gained verbal commitments from three top 100 players, two of which are rated at five stars. The key to Weis's success is his willingness to take on the best programs in America for the signatures of the best recruits. Last week Steve Wiltfong spoke with two young men being recruited by Notre Dame and many of the best teams in the nation. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Tony Jefferson, Ath, 6-0, 195, Eastlake High School, Chula Vista, CA has completed all the requirements necessary for enrolling early when he begins his college career. Now, he simply must decide which college that will be.

Jefferson has narrowed his list to three favorites with two more possibles. His top three consists of Notre Dame, USC and UCLA. He also has not yet crossed Oklahoma or Florida off his list. He has been to UCLA and USC and has no plans to visit UCLA again. He does plan another trip to USC, but more importantly for Irish fans, he plans to attend the Notre Dame Blue-Gold game on 18 April.

"I'm trying to take in the hype and the excitement that's there," Jefferson said of Notre Dame's spring game. "What's already getting me is that there is going to be a spring game and there is going to be over 40,000 people at it and that tells me a lot about the program. I want to see how they play in person, I want to see how the coaches are, I want to see the team chemistry and basically just to get that gut feeling to let me know if I belong there."

For Jefferson, this will be his first visit to South Bend so he hopes to learn as much as possible about Notre Dame in the time that he's there.

"I've never actually been out in that area but from what I hear about it, it's somewhere I can see myself playing in that environment," said Jefferson. "I love the coaches, a nice head coach, the prestige of the program is really good and I like how they play true freshmen. And I know they're going back to what they used to be. I can see that coming. They've had some really good recruiting classes and they're going to get another good one this year."

Though Jefferson racked up very good numbers, both at running back, 1322 yards, and at outside linebacker, 89 tackles, the Irish coaching staff sees him in the secondary at the college level.

"He (Weis) was telling me by the time I get there guys there right now will already either be drafted or graduated," recounted Jefferson. "He said they're in a real need for a player like me at that position and they're really hoping I go there because I can help them out tremendously and also make an impact as soon as I get there."

Jefferson isn't just hearing positive things from the Irish coaching staff about Notre Dame, but from his parents as well.

"My dad is in love with Notre Dame and my mom likes it too," said Jefferson. "It's a Catholic school and they're fine with it, just like they would be with any other college."

Jefferson plans to make a decision sometime in September.

Blake Lueders, DE, 6-5, 245, Zionsville High School, Zionsville, IN is another recruit on Notre Dame's wish list that plans to make an early decision. Unlike Jefferson, Lueders is very familiar with the Irish, having attended a number of games in South Bend over the years. However, Lueders first chance to really see the football program up close and personal came during a January Junior Day. Even then, he was forced to leave early because of a basketball game. Last weekend, Lueders was able to finally experience the Notre Dame football program in the kind of depth that every recruit needs in order to make a decision.

"It was great, I really liked it," Lueders said of his weekend at Notre Dame. "I got to get an in-depth look at Notre Dame football and everything. I just got to know the players and the coaches and that was the best part of it."

Lueders host for the weekend was Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph.

"I hung out with Kyle, Dan McCarthy, Mike Golic, Jr. and Dayne Crist," remembered Lueders. "I liked them and they seemed like guys I would fit in with if I went there and it's good to know they recruit guys that I like, players like me."

In addition to Notre Dame, Lueders currently holds offers from Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Stanford, Purdue, Iowa and Northwestern. However, last weekend was about the Irish and head coach Charlie Weis and new defensive line coach Randy Hart had the opportunity to make their case for Notre Dame.

"Coach Weis is just a great guy," Lueders opined. "I sat down and talked to him for about a half hour. I could tell he knew what he was talking about. He was really laid back, but I could tell he really wants to win."

Lueders continued.

"I got to sit down and talk to coach Hart for a while and you can definitely tell he knows football and, for his age, he's the most energetic guy I've ever met. He's a great guy."

Lueders got the opportunity to watch an entire practice on Saturday and split his time between the defensive line and the linebackers. As a junior at Zionsville, he played middle linebacker and registered 128 tackles. Many project him as a defensive end at the next level.

On his trip home, he and his mother talked about Notre Dame. It certainly sounds as if the visit swayed mom if not her son.

"She really like it," said Lueders. "She said she'd be happy if I went there."

These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes. Top Stories